The UMC is a church that is dedicated to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This is a wonderful mission that I too have dedicated my life toward fulfilling. The problem is we don't really know what that means.
One group may see a disciple of Christ as one who is pro-gun while another thinks disciples of Christ are pacifists. One group might see a disciple of Christ as one that warns people of hell and damnation if they don't accept Jesus while other groups think Christ brought universal salvation regardless of creed.
While it is true that disciples of Christ are advocates of love, even love is difficult to get Christian groups on the same page. Is it loving to kill a someone if you believe they are going to hurt your family? Is it loving to use fear to get people to accept Jesus because you really love them and want to do everything you can to ensure they will avoid the torment of hell? Is it loving to allow someone to just continue to live in sin without calling them to repent and change their ways?
So might I offer an alternative to think about what a disciple looks like?
What would it look like to build a community of faith that defines a disciple of Christ as one who is growing in generosity?
Giving more time, prayer, attention, resources. Giving more thanks, extending greater hospitality, being less attached to stuff. Having open palms and not clenched fists.
I believe that God is generous. I do not believe God withholds things from creation or is stingy. I do not see Jesus as building barriers to God but rather his death tore open the curtain in the temple so all may access God.
A disciple of Christ is at the very least one that is generous. If we are not growing in generosity then are we growing in Christ?
While not a perfect metric, might faith communities focused on generosity be the same faith communities that are making disciples of Christ?